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Message from Cindy Wallace, Vice Chancellor for Student Development

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This statement was printed in the February 21, 2012 edition of The Appalachian:

Recently, concerns have been raised within the Appalachian community about student conduct relating to safety and assault. First and foremost, all instances of assault, including sexual assault, are a serious concern to the University and will not be tolerated. The University is committed to addressing and working to help prevent acts of violence within our community and to providing services to immediately care for and counsel anyone reporting an assault.

Because the safety and health of our students are of paramount importance, educational programs about prevention and awareness on a range of safety issues, including sexual assault, are presented throughout each academic year. In light of current concerns, the University will engage all students, faculty, and staff in an expanded, campus-wide education effort aimed at further increasing safety awareness, preventing sexual assaults, and ensuring that all members of the Appalachian community are informed about the processes and resources available to anyone who reports an assault.

The University's Office of Student Conduct has an established process for addressing alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct that involve assault by another student, whether the incident occurs on campus or off campus. Students may also choose to file a criminal report with campus or local authorities. Each case filed with the Office of Student Conduct is reviewed through an established process that takes into account factors including the severity of the alleged violation.

Discussions about how best to support victims of sexual assault and how the student conduct process works are now occurring on campus and online. In the days ahead, we will work diligently to share factual information about this process. While Appalachian will be as transparent as possible, federal law prohibits campus officials from releasing certain information about students involved in the student conduct process.

It is imperative that all members of the Appalachian Family know that our campus is committed to preventing acts of violence. While putting an end to violence is the ultimate goal, every member of our community must be prepared to respond appropriately to someone who turns to them for help during or after an assault. This preparation and awareness are crucial to ensuring victims receive the assistance they need. The University administration is committed to ensuring that the Appalachian community can and will work together to create an environment that promotes safety, awareness, and prevention.

Cindy Wallace
Vice Chancellor for Student Development

How you can help prevent violence

  • Know the location of "blue lights,"or campus emergency telephones.
  • Always tell someone where you're going and when you expect to come back.
  • Use the buddy system - take a friend when you go out at night or to a party or club, and don't leave without them.
  • Don't go anywhere with someone you've just met.
  • Prepare or open your own drink and don't leave it unattended at any time.
  • If you think you are being followed, drive to an open police or fire station or a well-lit, public place.
  • Be respectful of yourself and others. Make sure any sexual act is OK with your partner if you initiate.
  • Carrying a cell phone can lead to more risk-taking behavior. Don't give in to a false sense of security just because you have your phone with you.

Active bystanders stop violence. It takes some character and guts to be the kind of person who will intervene, but one person can make a difference. If you're in a situation where you see something weird happening, you can:

  • Distract the people involved, or take one person aside and distract him/her.
  • Track down a friend of one of the people and have that person check on his/ her friend.
  • Knock - or open the door. Ask if everything's cool. Interrupting an OK scene is better than ignoring an act of violence.

Any situation that threatens physical harm to yourself or another student should be assessed carefully. Call the police if you need help to defuse the situation.

If you need help for yourself or a friend

  • Campus police: 8000 (from a campus phone)
  • 828-262-8000 (from any other phone)
  • All other emergencies: 911(9-911 from a campus phone)
  • Counseling & Psychological Services: 828-262-3180
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Believe someone who discloses a sexual assault, abusive relationship, or experience with stalking or cyberstalking. Additional resources and information may be found at these websites: